Genocide, Armenians & Turks, Bangladesh & Pakistan;
and Celebrating Eid
The Armenian genocide during WWI is getting new attention. Speaker Pelosi has
committed to condemn the Armenian genocide in the House, with our Turkey allies
up in arms over the action.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, insisted today that she would bring to a
vote a resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey nearly
a century ago as genocide, even as a Turkish general warned that this could
cause lasting damage to a military relationship crucial to American forces
A House committee on Wednesday approved the nonbinding resolution declaring
the killings, which began in 1915, , as genocide, and Ms. Pelosi, the California
Democrat, reiterated today that “I’ve said if it passed the committee
that we would bring it to the floor.”
But in Ankara, the Turkish military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said that
if the full House passes the resolution, “our military relations with
the United States can never be the same,” Reuters reported. “The
U.S. shot its own foot,” he told the Turkish newspaper Milliyet. …
Pelosi’s pledge is turning into an international incident at a time when we
need the Turks more than ever. At issue is the term “genocide,” even
though close to 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered. Thus is the price of
war and modern Turkey, the Turks reply. Ask the French, who made the denial
of Armenian genocide a crime, if the Turks aren’t serious. Subsequent to the
French action the Turks quit dealing with the French on all military matters.
But the issue is much broader and more dangerous than a simple U.S. House resolution.
Turks are preparing for possible strikes against Kurdish separatists, something
that has worried the Turks since the invasion of Iraq. That Ronald Reagan also
called the killings by the Turks genocide gives Speaker Pelosi considerable
cover. On the other side, former President Jimmy Carter has stated, along with
“eight former American secretaries of state” according to the Times,
“I think if I was in Congress I would not vote for it.”
As much as I support Speaker Pelosi, I think this action by the House is very ill advised. Our situation in Iraq is precarious at best. Anything, even the smallest action, though the Turks would hardly call this small, is dangerous. I do not argue that what the Turks did was indeed genocide, the timing of it could not be worse. Though as the Speaker says herself, when is the timing ever going to be good? Iraq is more important and nothing should be done to jeopardize any part of our mission there.
Next up, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, whose appearance at Columbia brought a firestorm
of protests, as he is the president of the Holocaust deniers contingent, which
mystifies me fully and completely. How anyone can look at the historical evidence
and conclude such nonsense is beyond me.
That brings me to our good friend Mash, who normally posts on Sundays in this
spot. Mash is is off today celebrating
Eid, the end of Ramadan with his beautiful family. So in his usual spot I thought I’d take a
moment to commend a remarkable post Mash wrote last week about the Blangladeshi genocide and Pakistan’s full involvement in it back in 1971, as well as their
denials of it. Below is a snippet, but I truly urge you to read
Mash’s entire post.
In September Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad delivered a speech at Columbia
University amidst much protest. The protests stemmed from his views on the
Holocaust. Under questioning Ahmedinejad conceded that the Holocaust had indeed
happened, but he was calling for further “research” to “approach
the topic from different perspectives”. In doing so, Ahmedinejad was
engaging in the modern form of Holocaust Denial. Ahmedinejad’s “different
perspectives” were on display last year when he called for a conference
on the Holocaust. At the time, his spokesman declared “I have visited
the Nazi camps in Eastern Europe. I think it is exaggerated.”
Modern Holocaust Denial has three key elements. The Deniers argue that the
Nazis did not kill five to six million Jews; that the Nazis did not have a
systematic policy of killing Jews; and, that the genocide was not carried
out in extermination camps. Ahmedinejad and others call for further “research”
to investigate one or more of these key elements. Their goal is to diminish
the genocide by, first, questioning its extent and then by arguing that whatever
killings took place were part of the normal savagery of war and not as a result
of any systematic campaign by the Nazis. Holocaust Denial is anti-Semitism
in the cloak of “scholarship”. Over a half century after perhaps
the most well-documented act of genocide in the history of mankind, Holocaust
Deniers still persist in trying to diminish its horrors.
Holocaust Denial is an example of the phenomenon of genocide denial that
crops up to challenge almost every accepted case of genocide. The genocide
committed by the Pakistan army during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971
is no exception. Because of the scale of the atrocities in 1971 against a
civilian population of 70 million people it has proved impossible for genocide
deniers to claim that the atrocities did not occur. Instead, they have focused
on two tactics used to try to deny the Holocaust: that the scale of the genocide
was not that great, and that the Pakistan army had no systematic policy of
genocide. … ..
As Mash continues, Most estimates of the 1971 genocide put the death toll
between 300,000 and 3 million Bangladeshis dead, with between 200,000 to 400,000
women raped. It is an alarming statistic. It is also history that cannot
be denied. That the Pakistani military is doing just that puts them at odds
with the evidence. None of us, even those who aren’t familiar with this part
of the world, must never forget.
But any post about genocide must include Darfur, though at least the publicity on the ongoing tragedy is focusing attention, something that cannot be said about what Mash is addressing. Divestiture is the issue at hand today. The Senate needs a big push.
In closing, let me extend warm celebrations and blessings to Mash and all our Muslim
friends celebrating Eid today. We are far from understanding one another, but
a celebratory feast after a holy holiday is certainly something anyone, regardless
of religion or lack thereof, can appreciate. Who doesn’t like to party?